Senior Grace Balestrery lives Loyola’s mission. A Glencoe resident and graduate of Central School, Balestrery is an accomplished student-athlete who gives back to her community. She was captain on the field hockey team and selected to Illinois High School Field Hockey Association’s all-state second team. She’s an award-winning photographer whose work will be on display May 5-27 at Perspective Gallery in Evanston. Balestrery also volunteers in her free time. She plans to attend Tulane University in New Orleans.
MAROON & GOLD: I saw on Twitter that you were picked from a large pool of applicants to show your photography May 5-27 at the Juried Student Perspectives Show at Perspectives Gallery in Evanston. When did you become interested in photography?
GRACE BALESTRERY: My generation is very much one that is taking pictures and putting them on Instagram. It’s something I’ve been doing for several years. I always liked it, but I didn’t think much about it. Loyola has a fine arts credit requirement, so I took a photography class my junior year. I fell in love with it. I found out I was better than I thought I was at taking pictures.
M&G: Are you taking a photography class this year?
GB: Yes. I’m in an honors class. Right now, we are focusing Cubism. It was a movement Pablo Picasso did, but we are doing it with photography. It involves taking portraits of people from a lot of different angles, then printing them out and putting them together in a collage to form a whole portrait.
M&G: One of your photos will be part of an exhibit next month at the Perspectives Gallery in Evanston. Which picture did you choose to showcase?
GB: It’s a landscape in Paris. It’s of a lady smoking with two men in the background talking. I really love it because it captures the vibe of Paris. I took it last year.
M&G: Do you have a favorite place to take pictures in the Chicago area?
GB: I live near the Skokie Lagoons. It’s a place I pass by to and from school. There is a lot of beauty there, a lot of wild life. Not many people shoot landscapes these days, but it’s something I enjoy. I think it makes me unique.
M&G: You were a three-year varsity field hockey player. How did you get started in the sport?
GB: My mom [Jennifer Balestrery] played field hockey at Wellesley College. I started in fourth grade at the Winnetka Park District. Then, I joined Windy City Field Hockey in seventh grade.
M&G: What did you like most about your experience playing for the Ramblers?
GB: I was on the JV A team as a freshman, and it helped me bond with people at a new school. It felt like a family. The coaches, like Annie Nimz, really focused on those personal connections.
M&G: Loyola finished 11-9 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the state tournament, losing to New Trier 2-1 in overtime. Do you have a favorite memory from your senior season?
GB: Probably the way we pulled together after our start. We lost to Lake Forest and New Trier early, which are two of the best teams in the state. It was a loss to Antioch that got us down. After that, we started staying later at practice and putting in more work. We grew so much by rallying around each other.
M&G: You were named to the all-state second team by the Illinois High School Field Hockey Association. How did you receive that award?
GB: Honestly, I was so surprised. It was not something I expected. I switched from forward to defense halfway through the season because it’s what the team needed. I mean, I got all-state at a position I wasn’t used to playing. I was shocked.
M&G: What other sports did you play growing up?
GB: I was into horseback riding. My mom did it when she was younger. She’s been a big influence on me. I started in seventh grade before quitting halfway through high school. I rode at Freedom Woods in Morton Grove. I love horses. They are like big dogs. They have personalities.
M&G: What is something people might not know about you?
GB: I like to volunteer. On Sundays, I go to the North Park Village Nature Center [in Chicago] to help with forest restoration and then to the Sunrise Senior Living Center to spend time with residents who are suffering from dementia. My Sundays are busy.
M&G: Do you know what you want to study at Tulane?
GB: I am considering pre-law. It was a decision I came to this year. All the students at Loyola had to read “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson this year. It’s a book about reforming our justice system. I loved it, and it inspired me. I want to apply a law degree to helping make our country better.